Freshly-mowed lawns are pretty to look at, but they could actually be hurting the environment. The emissions from gas-powered mowers and trimmers contribute to air pollution, and mowing over native grasses and wildflowers reduce the nectar for pollinators. Instead of sticking to an every-other-week mowing schedule, let your grass grow long, skip the herbicide, and let your lawn become a no-mow lawn.
If you’re not ready to let your lawn become a full-grown meadow (or if your neighborhood has restrictions), start with a small section or troublesome area in the landscape. Doing so will help the plants and animals in your area.
The chances are that at least some wildflowers will appear if you leave the lawnmower alone. What comes up in your no-mow patch depends very much on what you start with. If, like me, your lawn is old, rather weedy, and probably hasn’t encountered weedkillers or fertilisers for years, a bit more conscious neglect could transform it into a thriving mini-meadow.
Here are the some mowing tips for encouraging wildlife in your garden:
○ Cut once every four weeks: the 2019 No Mow May experiment revealed the highest number of flowers on lawns, mown in this way. Ideally, leave around three to five centimetres of grass long.
○ Leave areas of long grass: the experiment also resulted in greater diversity of flowers in areas of grass than were left completely unmown, with ox eye daisies, field spacious and knotweed offering up important nectar resources.
○ You don’t have to stop mowing completely: some species, such as daisy and birds foot trefoil are adapted to growing in shorter shards. Cutting flowers from these plants once a month stimulates them to produce more blooms.
○ Make hay while the sun still shines: using grass cuttings to turn into hay is great for seed-eating birds. After any wildflowers have finished in late summer, mowing restores the grass, with perhaps another mowing before winter to prevent tussocks. Leaving the summer mown grass in place for a few sunny days to become ‘hay’ releases seeds to refresh the lawn for next year and also provides food for seed-eating birds and other wildlife. The ‘hay’ can also then be removed and composted.
We need to be more relaxed when it comes to looking after our lawns, it’s the case of changing the way we think about how they should be kept. People don’t realise how diverse grass lawns can really be!
The statistics for wildflower meadow loss are shocking: around 7.5 million acres has gone!
The loss of this landscape means a loss of much needed food sources for pollinators, which is one of the key drivers of their decline.
Gardens can really make a huge difference to the number of wildflowers in this country.
So why not help our vital pollinators by leaving the lawn mower this spring- summer and letting your grass grow!